Today I was shopping for my non perishable groceries. The majority is purchased at Whole Foods, a few items like my flour and Shredded Wheat come from Target. My bread comes from Great Harvest. Today we picked up some special order hamburger buns for the first time as well. Yum.
Some estimates are that Americans eat 22 teaspoons of sugar a day (teens eating up to 34 teaspoons). Prior to our 10 day food challenge, I would have absolutely said that that did not apply to my family, but rather to the ones who let their kids eat pop tarts, oreos, sodas, and candy. After the 10 day food challenge, which forced me to read every label, I would absolutely say that we did eat that much. The food challenge started me researching chemical dyes (seriously, we have to chemically color something that has an intended purpose of making my children healthier?), preservatives (even my beloved Chick fil a has MSG in their chicken?), oils, breads, and sweeteners. It had me watching documentaries like Sick Fat and Nearly Dead, Food Inc, and Forks over Knives. You know what my conclusion is? This food situation we have in America is depressing. Bottom line. Where is the food in our food?
I wallowed a little, got angry, and then decided I can do the best with what I have available to me. I have improved five bajillion percent for my family and I am proud of us. It is in every way worth it. The bottom line is I never thought that the food we were eating before was “unhealthy”. I didn’t ever think about it. I mean really connect it. But now, why would you eat all these chemicals if you can eat the same food without them? Yes it is harder. Yes it is more expensive. However, when I consider the benefits vs the risks, I see no choice that needs to be made.
These days it is no longer even as much about WHAT you are eating as it is about how it is made. You can eat pizza. Just not Totinos Pizza, please. There are healthier ways to eat our favorites that involve actual real food. There are also new favorites waiting to be found. One of my families new favorites is some whole grain pasta with sugar snap peas, corn, and carrots mixed in. Add a little balsamic vinegar and some fresh grated cheese. It’s so yummy.
Bread crumbs recently taught me a valuable lesson. I just never would have thought to read the ingredients in the standard bread crumbs. After all it is B R E A D C R U M B S. Wrong. You can buy healthy bread crumbs or ones with a whole bunch of words that challenge even the best readers. The same is true for many products and we need to invest the time to read the labels.
So, my husband and I have landed in the following place. We will not eat preservatives such as MSG and others. We are no longer eating chemical dye of any kind. We go for whole grain always. We go for organic, local, cage free, free range, pasture raised and however else you want to phrase it. We are researching and learning to become more educated. We are reading and questioning what we are putting on our table. We are trying to stay within our original food budget prior to our change in eating, which was $600 a month for a family of 6. I am struggling to do that and we will likely need to raise it to $800. We are willing to do that if necessary. We cancelled cable already and will do other things to make it work. Our health is too important to say we can’t afford to eat this way because the truth is we can. It is all about where we are going to spend our money. We will still occasionally eat sugar, but it will be for sugar sake. For example a cookie or a birthday cake. This will be and can be done much healthier than the ways we were doing it before. I am still learning what those are.
I would consider myself far from properly educated on all things healthy food related, but I am learning. When I use the word WE it implies my whole family. My thirteen year old just attended a swim party where there was junk food galore. He passed it all up because he said it wasn’t good for him. The next morning at church when the leftovers where present he caved and ate 5 Oreos. We have some work to do, but one out of two times is 50% better than it was before, right?
I wish that true food education was easier to come by. Marketing is so deceiving. Fresh n Easy may carry some healthy things but they are not a health food store (you still have to be careful), there is really no such thing as a healthy fast food restaurant, Nutella is not a healthy breakfast option, and on and on… It’s amazing to me that Kellogs and other companies manufacture the same foods in Europe without chemical dye as they do here in the USA. They have the recipes. It can be done. Strange.
I am currently grocery shopping weekly for perishables and bimonthly for non perishables. Every meal and snack is planned out for 15 days at a time. This morning I bought several things that I have never purchased before and I was cracking up a little bit. I have a bunch of new recipes to try in the next couple of weeks. As I was asking the Whole Foods worker this morning what Tahini was because I needed some for a new recipe I was going to make, I could only crack up. How far I have come.
and you may be asking why I keep talking about this?
Basically because my family feels fabulous.
It’s so worth it.